Unleash the Fire: Telesa Trilogy Celebration

Samoan Author Lani Wendt-Young, a friend and a Pacific sister of mine whom I greatly admire for her work and entrepreneurship, celebrated her second Auckland book signing in the Unleash the Fire: Telesa Trilogy Celebration event on Saturday 25th August 2012.  Hosted by Shop Samoa, the weather was perfect for this outdoor event at the Otara Fleamarket where every Saturday morning, large numbers of Pacific peoples congregate to sample and enjoy the food offered by numerous stalls and/or to purchase Pacific inspired arts and crafts, music, books, fresh fruit and veges and more. To have the event hosted there was fantastic as it took the Telesa Trilogy series into the heart of the Pacific community. It was a wonderful day indeed.

Prior to the event taking place, Shop Samoa stated that their goal was to showcase a variety of Pacific artists and entrepreneurs and in my opinion, they did a great job in doing exactly that. The MC for the event was Yolande Ah Chong, also known as our diva of the Pacific who is a fabulously vivacious host on Radio 531pi. The line up of performances consisted of a few members of the South Auckland Poets Collective i.e. Marina Alefosio, Mafi Tavo, Lina Tukunga and myself, a reggae and rnb band called Higher Ground, the vibrant Tatau Dance group, Taufau Gardenia Aukuso and To’afa Te’o Ataata music duo and a beautiful contemporary Samoan siva performed by Filoi Vailaau. It was an honour for me to perform spoken word poetry alongside my fellow poets at this event (thank you Lani and Shop Samoa!). Here is a slideshow of photos from the event:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This event also saw the pre-launch of the first magazine aimed at the Pacific young women, SUGA. With SUGA’s Editor Cecilia Sagote on site at the event it was an exciting moment for her too. Cecilia Sagote has been working on the idea for this magazine over the past few years after recognising the gap in the market. Included in the magazine’s first edition is a special feature on Lani Wendt-Young and the Telesa Trilogy series with a Telesa inspired fashion photoshoot with Pacific models who wore Pacific inspired garments designed by Paula Chan and MENA. These beautiful garments were showcased on the day by beautiful young Samoan models. Cecilia Sagote said that SUGA magazine will also bring to light news coming out of the various South Pacific nations to encourage and motivate young Pacific women to be comfortable in their own skin.

Samoan Author Lani Wendt-Young and Editor of SUGA Magazine Cecilia Sagote with the beautiful Samoan models wearing garments designed by Paula Chan and MENA.
Samoan Performance Poet Marina Alefosio from the South Auckland Poets Collective with Samoan Photographer Jordan Kwan.

Furthermore, the talented Samoan photographer, Jordan Kwan, was also present at this event along with his 2013 Sexy Samoan Men calendars which were on sale at the Shop Samoa stall. Jordan Kwan has been working closely with Lani Wendt-Young in the promotion of the Telesa Trilogy series and it is great to see his work come alive. It was also awesome to meet him on the day too. He is a humble guy!

Shop Samoa was pleased with the turn out of the event and they stated, “the Unleash the Fire: Telesa Trilogy Celebration was a great success. It was a true celebration of pacific talent and creativity. The success of the Telesa Trilogy continues to grow and its helping to fuel the creative fire of other Pacific artists and entrepreneurs”. Shop Samoa in conjunction with Lani Wendt Young will be hosting more events like these in the future as it is a great platform for exposure and connecting with the community.

Below is the book trailer in which Jordan Kwan produced for Lani Wendt Young’s second book from the Telesa Trilogy series entitled When Water Burns:

Over the past year, I have seen Lani support and encourage young Pacific peoples to pursue their passion, whether it be in writing and/or any other chosen field. She continues to encourage and support me behind the scenes with my poetry writing and the goals that I have set for myself in this poetry writing journey. And for that, I am grateful to Lani. In saying that, the Unleash the Fire: Telesa Trilogy Celebration event is a testament to the support and encouragement that she provides for others. Lani Wendt-Young states, “One of the exciting things about the Telesa writing journey, has been the opportunity to work with and be inspired by Pacific artists like Jordan Kwan and the SUGA magazine team. I’m thrilled we can come together to help launch their work”. She is an inspiration indeed!

Ezra Taylor the book model for one of the lead characters in Lani Wendt Young’s Telesa Trilogy Series. Photographer: Jordan Kwan

Here is an excerpt taken from Samoan Bios about Lani’s Telesa Trilogy series:

“Wendt-Young’s novel ‘Telesa:The Covenant Keeper’, which is intended for a Young Adult audience, sees a blend of Pacific mythology into a contemporary Young Adult love story that involves fantasy, thriller and romance. The book is the first of Wendt-Young’s Telesa trilogy series. The e-book version was released in September 2011, with over 13,000 downloads to-date since it’s release. The print version of the book was first launched in her native Samoa in October 2011, and then launched in Auckland (New Zealand) on December 13, 2011, which was jointly hosted by AUT and Auckland University.

The highly anticipated second novel to Wendt-Young’s Telesa trilogy series – ‘When Water Burns‘, was released in both e-book and print version during the month of June 2012. It is a worthy sequel to ‘The Covenant Keeper‘, which will introduce new characters such as Keahi from Hawaii and the Tongan Telesa Sisterhood and their Covenant Keeper.” (Samoan Bios)

Lani Wendt-Young continues to fuel the fire in everyone’s hearts to do better, to strive for their dreams and to believe that anything is possible! I have a signed copy of book 1 and book 2 from the Telesa Trilogy series and I am definitely looking forward Lani’s next publication!

To watch the video highlights of this event produced by Bluwave, please click HERE.  To purchase Lani Wendt-Young’s books, SUGA magazine and also Jordan Kwan’s 2013 Sexy Samoan Men calendar you can visit www.shopsamoa.com

In closing, I leave you with Lani Wendt-Young’s words:

Unleash the creative fire within, for then we fly.”

Sponsors of the event:

Click on the related links:

Author Lani Wendt Young’s Official Website and Facebook Fanpage

Shop Samoa’s  Official Website and Facebook Fanpage

SUGA Magazine’s Official Website and Facebook Fanpage

Jordan Kwan’s Photography Blog and Facebook Fanpage


  1. Hi Maryanne,
    I enjoyed reading about this event. Lani Wendt Young is an inspiration! A Pacific Author working alongside other Pacific creative minds – that is encouraging to see and I am left inspired. Thank you for sharing this event and for introducing me to Lani Wendt Young.

    1. Hi Saane,
      Thank you for stopping by. I am glad that you’ve enjoyed this blog post. Lani is awesome isn’t she? I appreciate your feedback. Have a wonderful day.
      God bless xox

  2. This is awesome! Love all the talent shown in your piece not only of Lani’s work but all the other amazing artists – photographer, the SUGA magazine and so forth. Such creativity is exactly what we need to see more of from our Pacific Islanders. I am so inspired from all of this. I am here in Utah for medical treatment and saw at the local library a book signing for an author here. I was thinking that they could probably host something similar to what you guys did over there. who would I contact for something like that to be done? The author coming is sponsored by the Utah ARts Council Committee so I was going to call them to check and see if something similar could be done for Lani. I have yet to meet Lani and I’m a huge fan. I know there is a strong Polynesian community here in Utah and would be awesome to see her fan base grow even further with more exposure. I do believe more of our young people need to see and read more stories about our cultures.

    Cheers and alofas,

    1. Hi Sis,
      It is awesome to hear from you. I am so glad that you are inspired by this event. Shop Samoa did a fab job in organising it with Lani. I’m sorry that you’re about to undergo medical treatment. I hope that all goes well sis. I love how you are thinking about what you can do for Lani in your time of need. It says a lot about you. It would be great if you are able to find a way for Lani to possibly receive sponsorship so that she can do a book signing in the States. That would be great for Lani. I’d love to hear how things go. Please also keep me updated on how your medical treatment goes. Travel safe sis!
      ‘Ofa lahi atu xox

      1. I definitely will look into it. I am striving to serve others more because in doing so it lessens the time I spend feeling sorry for myself or asking why me in this particular predicament I find myself in. 🙂 one luv!

  3. So humbled – and grateful to read this, thank you so much Maryanne. The best part about this writing journey is the opportunity to connect with other Pacific artists, to share in their journeys and to be inspired by their creativity and energy. I look forward to lots more poetry-novel-fashion-music-art celebrations with you in the future.

    1. Hi Lani,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this post and for providing feedback. I truly appreciate it. What I love about you is that you collaborate with others and so when you succeed so many others succeed too. That is a great attribute to have and a testament to your beautiful spirit. Keep up the inspirational work and I look forward to seeing you again. #TeamTelesa
      ‘Ofa lahi atu xox

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s